Colonel: [moments before the Amritsar Massacre] Should we issue a warning, sir?
Gen. Dyer: They've had their warning. No meetings.
[pause]
Gen. Dyer: *Fire!*
(from Gandhi(1982), source : IMDB)
After visiting Harmandir Sahib, we went to the Jallianwala Bagh. It is situated at around 300 meters from the main entrance of Harmandir Sahib. Jallianwala Bagh reminds us of our past, of our freedom struggle against British colonialism. For people of our generation who are used to the violent protests everyday on any type of issue, this place reminds us what was it like to stage a peaceful protest or even assemble peacefully. Such was the tyranny of British Raj that even a gathering on a festive occasion was fired upon. 

On 13th of April, 1919, there was a gathering of people in Jallianwala Bagh on the traditional festival of Baisakhi. At the scheduled time, the meeting started. Nearly an hour after the meeting started, then-Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer arrived there with a small contingent of Gurkha soldiers. Without even a warning Dyer ordered to fire upon the assembly. The Park was surrounded from all the sides by houses and there were narrow entrances which were chained. Only the main entrance was open for passage, which was manned by soldiers firing indiscriminately. There was no way to leave the park and subsequently most of the people died from the resulting stampede. Many of them jumped into a well inside the park to escape from bullets. More than hundred bodies were recovered later from the well. This incident is know as Jallianwala Bagh Massacre. After the massacre, curfew was imposed in the city due to which wounded could not be taken out of the park to provide medical support and many more succumbed during night to the injuries. Official sources placed the number of deaths at 379 while unofficial sources claimed that total number of casualties were more than a thousand.

Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar



Today the 6.5 acre site is managed by Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial Trust established in 1951. While entering the park, the spot from which bullets were fired could be seen. Looking from there it could be easily deduced that there was no way to escape the bullets other then coming towards the guns and trying to flee from main gate. The bullet marks on the surrounding walls are encircled and carefully preserved. There are plaques installed near these marks giving details about the locations of the bullet. The well in which people jumped to save their life is also a protected monument inside the park. A stone memorial with stone lanterns at its four corners was inaugurated on 13th April, 1961. Later on one eternal flame ("amar jyoti") was also installed.

amar jyoti at Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar

Near main entrance to the park, there is a small hall in which a short documentary is played on a projector. The short movie gives a detailed account of what happened on that fateful day. among other things, the documentary had some rare footage and voices of freedom fighters. This emphasized on much talked-about right to protest peacefully which modern democracies boast of. If people can not protest in a peaceful manner against a decision of the establishment then how it is different from a dictatorship. 

Durgiana Temple, Amritsar

Then we went to Durgiana Temple, which derives its name from Goddess Durga. Built in 1908, this temple is also called Silver Temple because of its carved silver doors and is structurally similar to Golden Temple. Kar sewa was performed to desilt the tank in 1921, 1975 and 1999. Durga is the main deity of this temple and Lakshmi and Narayan are the two other presiding deities of Durgiana Temple. That is why it is also called Lakshmi Narayan Temple. After visiting this temple it was time to go to Wagah Border to watch Beating Retreat Ceremony.

Also see Amritsar : Jallianwala Bagh and Durgiana Temple in PicturesSee photos of Jallianwala Bagh and Durgiana Temple on flickr here.



Also see Amritsar : Jallianwala Bagh and Durgiana Temple. See photos of Jallianwala Bagh and Durgiana Temple on flickr here.

A painting near entrance depicts the the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in 1919.
Martyr's Well, Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar

Read more »


"In this game that we are playing, we can't win. Some kinds of failure are better than other kinds, that's all."
English author George Orwell wrote '1984' in 1948 and wrote so well that whole description of a society as mentioned in 1984 has since changed. Such a society is often called Orwellian. '1984' is a dystopian novel about a futuristic totalitarian regime where the wish of a supreme ruler is everything and that too when nobody is sure whether that ruler even exists or not.  Unlike his other novel 'Animal Farm', Orwell does not take overt political sides but instead sets up his story in future. Although the elements of this book were inspired from what was happening in the communist regime of Soviet, what he suspected or rather prophesied is true for any regime, even regimes that are claiming to be most democratic ones. 

The protagonist of the novel '1984' is a middle class clerk Winston Smith working in Ministry of Truth, tasked with rewriting history. His job was to erase any traces of something which happened but is in contrast to the present stand of the regime. At his home, he was keeping diary and made daily entries, hiding from the telescreen which was used to do surveillance on Party members, something which amounted to thoughtcrime. He eventually falls in love with Julia, which was not allowed for Party members. The main antagonist is O'Brien who is the Inner Party member and whom Winston initially thinks to be a member of underground movement Brotherhood. In fact, it was O'Brien who sets up a trap to catch Winston and Julia red-handed. 

'1984' by 'George Orwell'
Orwell's love for details makes me his fan easily. The setup of the story, the characters all are well researched and well thought. In a war torn world, there are three nations or entities, Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia. These three are at perpetual war with each other as spread by the Ministry of Truth. Whether that war is even happening or its just a tool to intensify nationalism and deflect the attention from other severe problems and lack of basic tenets of personal freedom, is unknown. Orwell even develops a minimalist language Newspeak, which was to be used by Party. The argument that Party gives for promoting the Newspeak is that we do not require so many words when we can work with fewer words. This was one more way to curtail thinking and expression of views, devised by the Party. 

Many incidents described in the novel were taken from what was happening around the world. While 'purging' can be said to be taken from Soviet regime where political opponents were killed and records mentioning them were modified to remove their names. The news of war with other nations or news reading record productions are regular propaganda used by governments to inflate the feelings of citizens. The image created of brotherhood leader Emmanuel Goldstein is strikingly similar to that of Leon Trotsky who was defeated by Stalin in a power struggle after Lenin’s death. In fact most of the incidents resembled what happened in Soviet Russia, with Thought Police's idea taken from NKVD which arrested people even for a slightest anti-government talk.

The concerns which '1984' brought to the fore are more relevant today for democratic countries than they were in 1948 when the book was published. The widespread surveillance of citizens using social networks and other things on internet by governmental organizations are a major concern. The demand of executive to have more powers is threatening. Many a times an external threat is used to justify all wrong doings by a government. The idea of trivial Big Brother TV series originates from this novel. The intimidation by the authorities to do what they want was an extension of the surveillance. The censorship as depicted in the novel is slowly becoming the order of the day. More and more governments and courts are increasingly banning books and movies on flimsy grounds that these may hurt feelings of society. Instead these governments should research why societies have gone so intolerant. Revision of history by the governments to suit their purpose is also portrayed. History should be as it was not as it should be. Author says through one of the characters about the importance of revisionism:

"He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past."

The '1984' is a must read as it may be described as the champion of dystopias. This book is more of a description than storytelling. Sometimes author describes about the events taking place, sometimes he describes what is going on in the minds of the Winston and Julia and sometimes he describes what happened in the past to those revolted. There is another book 'The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism' written by 'Emmanuel Goldstein' within the book. This book within the book forms the major philosophical content of '1984'. The novel is not that easy to read especially the third part which describes the torture that the protagonists have to go through. This novel is frequently described as one of the most disturbing books. 

"Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing."


क्रीमिया को रूस में शामिल करने के बाद पुतिन के हौसले बुलंद हैं । कल शाम रुसी राष्ट्रपति के आधिकारिक आवास क्रेमलिन में बुलाई गई सुरक्षा अधिकारियों की बैठक में पुतिन का एक अलग ही रूप देखने को मिला । सामान्यतः अपने कड़क मिज़ाज के लिए पहचाने जाने वाले पुतिन आज बहुत भावुक थे। कमरे में लगी हुई ज़ार पीटर महान की फोटो को निहारते हुए कहा कि अगर आज पीटर जी जीवित होते तो कितने खुश और गर्वान्वित होते । हमने उनकी मेहनत से बनाए गये रूसी साम्राज्य को फिर से जोड़ने की तरफ पहला कदम बढ़ाया है । निकिता ख्रुसचेव ने क्रीमिया को यूक्रेन को देकर बहुत बड़ी ग़लती की थी, आज हमने उस ग़लती को सुधार लिया । किसी अधिकारी ने कहा, "लेकिन सर आपने रूसी लोगों के हितों वाला दाँव बहुत मस्त चला था ।" पुतिन ने हल्की मुस्कराहट के साथ स्वीकार किया । अधिकारियों से मुखातिब होते हुए कहा कि अब हमारा अगला लक्ष्य अलास्का है । हमारे पूर्वजों ने इसे अमेरिका को औने पौने दाम पर बेच के जो ग़लती की है उसको भी सुधारना पड़ेगा । इस बार हम अलास्का चीन को बाज़ार भाव पर देंगे । 

इधर संयुक्त राज्य अमेरिका दादागिरी में रूस से पिछड़ने पर बहुत शर्मिंदा है । राष्ट्रपति ओबामा ने जर्मन चांसलर मर्कल को फोन करके कहा कि अब आप ही पुतिन से बात कीजिये और रूस को समझाइये । ओबमा के स्टाफ ने पूर्व में ना जाने कितनी बार की गई दादागिरी का उदाहरण दिया मसलन विएतनाम, इराक़, अफ़ग़ानिस्तान, लीबिया इत्यादि इत्यादि लेकिन ओबामा इस बार पिछड़ने पर अब तक सदमे से बाहर नहीं आ पा रहे हैं। ओबामा ने आदेश दिया कि संयुक्त राष्ट्र में अमेरिका के राजदूत को बुलाया जाए । दूत हाज़िर हुआ । दूत से कहा गया कि संयुक्त राष्ट्र सुरक्षा परिषद में क़ानून पारित करवाया जाए कि जनमत संग्रह दादागिरी का उचित आधार नहीं है और आज के बाद से किसी भी दादागिरी पर उचित अनुचित का अंतिम फ़ैसला अमेरिका का ही रहेगा । जब राजदूत ने कहा कि इस प्रस्ताव को रूस वीटो कर देगा तो ओबामा ने रूस पर आर्थिक प्रतिबंध लगाने की धमकी दी ।  अर्जेंटीना ने ऐसे किसी प्रस्ताव की भनक लगते ही कहा कि क्रीमिया और फाल्कन द्वीप समूह के लिए अलग अलग मानक क्यूँ । आखिर फाल्कन द्वीप समूह पर कब्ज़ा करने का अधिकार भी तो एक जनमत संग्रह के द्वारा ही सही ठहराया गया था । जवाब में ओबामा ने अर्जेंटीना की राष्ट्रपति (या राष्ट्रपत्नी ) किर्चनेर से कहा, "आपके पास एटम बम है?"
किर्चनेर ने कहा, "नहीं।"
ओबामा ने कहा , "सख्त आर्थिक प्रतिबन्ध झेलने लायक अर्थव्यवस्था है ?"
किर्चनेर ने कहा, "नहीं।"
ओबामा ने कहा, "तो जाइये, हम आपकी बात नहीं सुनेंगे ।"

यूक्रेन के सत्तापलट करने वाले राष्ट्रपति अपने सलाहकारों के बीच बैठे रुसी वोडका के शॉट पे शॉट लगा रहे हैं । साथ ही सबको चेताया भी रुसी वोडका वाली बात बाहर नहीं जानी चाहिए । अबसे जनता को जैक डेनियल और क्राउन रॉयल व्हिस्की के साथ अन्य पश्चिमी पेयों के लिए प्रोत्साहित किया जायेगा । किसी ने शराब के नशे में अपने दिल की बात कह दी, "सर, चुनाव जीत कर राष्ट्रपति बनना ज्यादा मुश्किल होता। अच्छा किया जो विरोध प्रदर्शन के जरिये ही राष्ट्रपति बन बैठे । वैसे आपने सोचा है कि अगर दो महीने बाद चुनावों में जीत नहीं मिली तो क्या किया जायेगा ।"  राष्ट्रपति ने हँसते हुए कहा ,"तो हम रूस पर हस्तक्षेप का आरोप लगाकर दोबारा विरोध प्रदर्शन शुरू कर देंगे । आखिर इजिप्ट में भी तो प्रदर्शनकारियों की भीड़ ने चुनी हुई सरकार बदल के दिखा दिया है कि ऐसा करना सम्भव है । इस बारे में अमेरिका और यूरोपीय यूनियन से बात हो गई है और उन्होंने पूरे समर्थन का वादा किया है ।"

इस बीच अपने देश में जनमत संग्रह के आधार पर देश बदलने की नयी अर्जियां आयी हैं । नेपाल ने दार्जीलिंग में नेपाली भाषा बोलने वाले लोगों को दोबारा सहायता का भरोसा दिलाया है । फिजी और मॉरिशस की भोजपुरी भाषी जनता ने जनमत संग्रह की मांग की है और कहा है कि उस जनमत संग्रह के आधार पर भारत में उनके विलय का फैसला होना चाहिए । बिहार के मुख्यमंत्री नीतीश कुमार ने इस मुद्दे पर जोर शोर से बोलते हुए कहा है कि केंद्र सरकार को वहाँ के लोगों की सहायता करनी चाहिये । विलय में देरी के लिए हमेशा की तरह केंद्र सरकार को आड़े हाथों लेते हुए कहा कि यदि हमारी सरकार बनेगी तो हम सौ दिन के अंदर उन देशों को भारत का भाग बना देंगे । इधर इस मुद्दे पर खुद को नीतीश से पिछड़ता हुआ देखकर लालू ने भोजपुरी भाषी लोगों के लिए समर्थन जुटाने के उद्देश्य से अगले रविवार को पटना के ऐतिहासिक गांधी मैदान में महा रैला की घोषणा की है ।


(Use Grammarly for proofreading because an erroneous type may lead to overhype.)
"To sell your soul is the easiest thing in the world. That's what everybody does every hour of his life. If I asked you to keep your soul - would you understand why that's much harder?"

'The Fountainhead' alongwith 'Atlas Shrugged' are the two novels that established Ayn Rand as the pioneer of the objectivist philosophy after the lukewarm response to her initial works 'Anthem' and 'We The Living.' You can get the taste of her philosophy in 'Anthem' but it is 'The Fountainhead' where you experience in detail the symbolism of individualism, objectivism and selfishness. Since then the novel has become a cult and now has a huge fan following. Ayn Rand worked as an unpaid typist in an office of a famous architect to do extensive research on the central theme of this novel, architecture. This novel is about how a man stands against the system. As happens with other novels based on not-so-acceptable topics, Rand had difficulty in finding a publisher for this novel.

The story of 'The Fountainhead' revolves around a struggling architect Howard Roark who is not willing to compromise on his ideals in order to achieve success. Due to this, he was refused contracts many times but nothing deters him. He does everything for himself and has no responsibility towards society. He has a complex relationship with Dominique Francon who writes on architecture. She has a notion that the world is not yet ready or not worthy to receive the creations of Howard Roark. Howard Roark's batch-mate at his college, Peter Keating symbolizes everything which Howard stands against to. He has no principles and runs for the success, howsoever that is achieved. He makes it a point to have reach in social circles to make contacts and later use them for getting contracts. The main protagonist of the novel is Ellsworth Toohey, the socialist person organizing the workers at a newspaper company and the champion of the collectivist cause. He sees individualistic mindset of Roark as a major threat and does everything to destroy that. Gail Wynand is another personification of Rand's virtuous spirit. Via the character of Gail, rand has communicated the virtues of selfishness and her stand against socialism. 

'The Fountainhead' by 'Ayn Rand'
The character of Roark is not of someone that will be liked by everyone. At times he is incorruptible, likable and at times he is obnoxious, failing even to smile. Right from the college where he was expelled for conforming to the traditions of college to the industry where he refused to allow changes in his design, he had been unyielding to the will of others. Consider the situation that with so many directors and board members and everybody wanting to have his opinion count, how difficult it will be to have a design of a skyscraper go unchanged? He asked for the rationale behind the suggestions by everyone and everybody came with a response, "It is the tradition to build like that."

If delved deeply, like Roark, Toohey is also doing everything for himself and he is running for the power as evident from his long speech at the end of part three. The recurring theme of the Rand's novels are the long speeches by the characters as seen in Anthem's end or in 'The fountainhead' by Toohey and Roark. In this speech Toohey lays down his approach and tells what he wants to achieve by standing against anyone embodying the free thought, in this case Roark. So if Toohey is also selfish and doing everything for himself, why is he main protagonist of the novel? Isn't' it something that would have made him virtuous? He is doing under the garb of collectivism, treating all the people as representative of collective which Rand does not seem to like. She is averse to any hint of socialism and communism. 

Rand has chosen deliberately not to insert politics or economics in this novel despite trying that in 'We the Living'.  Roark's courtroom speech in his defence was the words which tells us more about the philosophy of Rand. Roark argues that when everything is discovered by an individual and later adopted by the society, then why is that individual made to suffer just because he ventured in forbidden territory and brought something which was unknown to men before. Roark says,
"No creator was prompted by a desire to serve his brothers, for his brothers rejected the gift he offered and that gift destroyed the slothful routine of their lives. His truth was his only motive. His own truth, and his own work to achieve it in his own way. A symphony, a book, an engine, a philosophy, an airplane or a building—that was his goal and his life. Not those who heard, read, operated, believed, flew or inhabited the thing he had created. The creation, not its users. The creation, not the benefits others derived from it. The creation which gave form to his truth. He held his truth above all things and against all men."
While traditions want the men to move on like they have done for the centuries, an enlightened individual refuses to work according to the conditions laid down and works for his own satisfaction, his own prosperity. This type of selfishness, according to Rand, is virtuous.  

Ayn Rand succeeds in creating a new philosophical thought of individualism and objectivism, but later on she herself does not strictly adheres to that, so to say. She wrote many books mostly collection of essays on thoughts like virtues of selfishness, capitalism and individualism not for herself, but for others to know about this school of thought. 'The Fountainhead' is a long novel running around seven hundred pages with many philosophical conversations between characters. Not an easy read, especially when you ponder over what you have read and think about the evolution of that philosophical thought.